THE MOMENT: The Hermès scarf

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic piece and explore its influence on style and pop culture. Above, a Spring 2010 Hermès scarf.

If fashion is the realm of covetable things, the Hermès scarf is the pinnacle of all fashion desires. It’s synonymous with luxury and refinement. Women who can afford it wear it as easily as its equally famous (pricier) sibling, the Birkin bag. The women who save up for it deem it an investment piece. To an outsider, it’s a square piece of cloth, no more, no less. To the fashion world, it’s a piece of treasure to cherish and to love.

The Hermès scarf made its debut in 1937 in Lyon, France. Since then, the fashion house has created over 2,000 silk scarves in an assortment of patterns and an exhaustive palette of colours. Marked by Hermès’s signature craftsmanship, the scarves are also hand-printed and the hems hand-stitched.

The scarf is nothing if not resourceful. Grace Kelly famously used a Hermès scarf as a sling for her broken arm. Madonna wore one as a wrap-around top in Swept Away. Sharon Stone made naughtier use of it for a bondage scene in Basic Instinct.

The scarf has also draped many a starlet’s neck. Audrey Hepburn, Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy, and Grace Kelly (below, of Hermès Kelly bag fame) have all sported the silk scarf. Queen Elizabeth II wore hers on a postage stamp in the fifties. Miranda Priestly, that transparent ode to Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, wears a white scarf in The Devil Wears Prada. The common denominators among the scarf’s famous fans? They’re all iconic and possess a timeless elegance—qualities shared by the scarf itself.

The Hermès scarf remain just as coveted today, but more than 70 years later, have we figured out its exact appeal? Nadine Coleno attempts to explain the allure in a recently published book aptly titled, The Hermès Scarf: History and Mystique.

Below, a selection of Spring 2010 scarves from Hermès. The scarves range in size and price; you can purchase a silk twill scarf (36″ by 36″) for $375.

Further reading: A behind-the-scenes look at how the Hermès scarf is made. (Thanks to Nathalie Atkinson for the tip!)

Further viewing: A video demonstration of how the Hermès screen-printing process works.

Click here to read more of The Moment!

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